Manufacturing the Future

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A strong pipeline of innovations in materials, information technology, production processes, and manufacturing operations will give manufacturers the opportunity to design and build new kinds of products, reinvent existing ones, and bring renewed dynamism to the sector.

“Over the next 15 years, another 1.8 billion people will enter the global consuming class and worldwide consumption will nearly double to $64 trillion. Developing economies will continue to drive global growth in demand for manufactured goods, becoming just as important as markets as they have been as contributors to the supply chain.”

Indicators point to an era of truly global manufacturing opportunities and a strong long-term future for manufacturing in both advanced and developing economies. The new era of manufacturing will be marked by highly agile, networked enterprises that use information and analytics as skillfully as they employ talent and machinery to deliver products and services to diverse global markets. In advanced economies, manufacturing will continue to drive innovation, exports, and productivity growth. In developing economies, manufacturing will continue to provide a pathway to higher living standards. As long as companies and countries understand the evolving nature of manufacturing and act on the powerful trends shaping the global competitive environment, they can thrive in this promising future.

The future of manufacturing belongs to the companies that can craft the strategies and build the capabilities to succeed in a new phase of global competition. New technologies and innovations as well as new sources of demand provide the opportunity. It is up to manufacturing leaders to seize it. Manufacturing companies will need new thinking and new muscle. They will be challenged to make big bets on long-term trends while also becoming more agile and responsive to near-term opportunities and shocks. To place those bets, manufacturers need to find new ways to answer core strategic questions: What is the optimum footprint for design, manufacturing, and service? Who are the best partners and how does the company collaborate with them to create the most competitive network? How does the company gather information and use intelligence to inform decisions and operations? How does the enterprise develop and retain talent?

The result of this rethinking of operating strategy very likely will be a new kind of manufacturing company—a truly global organization that reaches around the world to build and sell products and services to diverse customer bases.Successful manufacturing companies will be networked intelligent enterprises that rely more on data and analytics to drive decisions and manage complexity. Leaders of 21st-century manufacturing organizations will manage across functional silos and across their companies’ boundaries to collaborate seamlessly with partners and suppliers. Manufacturing companies will need new knowledge, new capabilities, and a new conviction to act.